David Elsworth is not concerned about Dash Of Spice dropping back in distance as he bids to follow up victories at Epsom and Royal Ascot in the 59th John Smith’s Cup at York on Saturday.
The progressive four-year-old bolted up by six lengths at the Surrey track on Derby day and then ran out an emphatic winner of the Duke of Edinburgh Handicap at the Royal meeting.
Dash Of Spice showed a decisive turn of foot in the final quarter-mile of both races to stamp his authority on matters and suggest this extended 10 furlongs will not pose a problem.
And the Jeff Smith-owned runner did win over a mile and a quarter in December, albeit in a maiden at Lingfield.
“He is at a progressive stage of his career – he’s improved the last couple of runs,” said Elsworth. “This is a drop back in trip of course. It was a mile and a half at Epsom and Ascot.
“But he has got plenty of ability to win over a mile and a quarter, of course he has.”
He added: “Mr Smith is an ambitious, speculative man, despite his modesty, and he has entered him in the Juddmonte International.
“Even though the horse has a lump of weight to carry, this would give us an indication whether or not he’s chasing rainbows.”
The Newmarket trainer is also represented by Master The World who takes part in a handicap for the first time this season after a series of efforts in Listed and Group races.
The seven-year-old is returning after a 10-week break, with Elsworth eyeing Goodwood again for him.
“He is always a danger. He’s bound for Goodwood after York where he’ll contest the mile race (Unibet Golden Mile) which he’s won and been second in,” said Elsworth.
“He’ll probably go and have another crack at that, but this race, while sort of a prep, he’s not going in there as a forlorn hope. He’s a course winner and sluiced up with Kieren (Fallon) one day there, I remember.”
Appeared was beaten four lengths when fourth to Dash Of Spice at Royal Ascot on his first race for 10 months and is another coming back in trip.
Trainer Roger Varian was pleased with that comeback run and is expecting a bold show from the six-year-old.
“Appeared ran a blinder to finish fourth in the Duke of Edinburgh and has come out of the race in fine form,” he said.
“He loves fast ground and won well at York a couple of seasons ago. His strong travelling style of running suggests he is worth a try at this shorter trip, particularly as it is a course where they often get racing a long way from home.
“Although he doesn’t look to have masses in hand (from the handicapper), he remains lightly-raced for his age and the 5lb pull with Dash Of Spice ought to bring them closer together.”
Thundering Blue was down the field in the Duke Of Edinburgh but this test promises to suit him better, as he won over the course and distance in May.
“The ground should be fairly similar to the ground he ran on at the Dante meeting, so we would be hopeful,” said trainer David Menuisier.
“He came out of Ascot absolutely fine because when Frankie (Dettori) saw that the horse was beaten, he wasn’t overly hard on him. He kind of looked after him in the last furlong.
“So he has actually come out of Ascot really well and is in super form. In my opinion, he is in as good a form as he was before the Dante meeting.”
Jim Goldie saddles the full-brothers Euchen Glen and Sir Chauvelin, who have proven form over longer distances.
Sir Chauvelin was second to Dash Of Spice over a mile and a half at Royal Ascot and ran third in the Northumberland Plate, while Euchen Glen was just touched off over an extended two miles in the Northumberland Vase at Newcastle.
Goldie said: “Euchan Glen has got a good draw (three). We’ll probably not drop in as deep as we did last time. We’ll just make a judgement on the day.
“He seems to be in very good form. He won and then nearly won in the last stride at Newcastle. A mile and two is a bit of a change in trip, but he has won over the distance and he’s in good order.
“Sir Chauvelin would have got close to catching the favourite (Dash Of Spice) at Ascot over a mile and four with a better run. If they’d have gone a stronger pace in the Zetland Gold Cup he’d have gone closer there.
“A mile and two could be sharp for him, too, but if they go a good gallop he’ll be finishing well.”